The Best Things to (Relatively Safely) Do in St. Louis This Week: September 17 to 23


Tonina will perform twice this week as part of Old Rock House's Listening Room series. - UMBERTO LOPEZ
  • Tonina will perform twice this week as part of Old Rock House's Listening Room series.

In the hellish nightmare that is 2020 in America, it can be something of a challenge to find ways to spend time outside of your home without putting yourself or those around you in danger of catching a potentially deadly virus. And while we’re half-inclined to suggest that the safest event is no event at all, we also know that sounds a whole lot like abstinence-only sex-ed, and you guys are probably gonna fuck anyway no matter what we say. So consider these recommendations your condoms: They aren’t foolproof, but they’re safer than just throwing caution to the wind.

We will only recommend events that are taking precautions — that includes masks, social distancing, reduced capacities and the like — but ultimately you’re in charge of your own health, so proceed with care. We’ll also be listing live-streamed events, which are surely the safest of them all, though admittedly not the same. Live-streamed events are basically the masturbation of events in this way, because — ah, you know what, we’re gonna go ahead and abandon this metaphor before we get in over our heads.

Night at the Zoo
5 p.m. Thursday, September 17. Saint Louis Zoo, 1 Government Drive. $25 to $30. 314-781-0900.
There is but one set of animals at the zoo that are wholly unacceptable, and which make a trip there a recipe for a bad time: human children. Shrieking little banshees whining about everything, snot-nosed vectors of disease, persistent roadblocks between you and the front of the line at the Ice Cream Oasis — who even likes these things, anyway? Luckily the good people at the Saint Louis Zoo share your open disdain for children, and they’ve organized a night off from the screaming hellspawn this week. Night at the Zoo is for the adults, with no one under 21 allowed, meaning you can finally enjoy the area’s premier animal jail the way it was intended — sans kids. The adults-only festivities kick off at 5 p.m., and tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members. Sure, the zoo is usually free, but when you consider what you're getting here — a night amongst the animals devoid of pint-sized hellions set on ruining your good time — 30 bucks is a bargain. Plus, each ticket comes with extras, including a free animal-themed face mask, two drink tickets and discounts on food and gift shop items. On top of all that, special attractions, including the train, the sea lion show and the stingrays, are free on this night. There will also be a limited number of charcuterie boxes for two that you can pick up at the Lakeside Cafe, presumably so you can taunt hungry animals with your grown-up Lunchables. In all, it amounts to a damn fine deal — but frankly, they had us at "no kids."
Don’t Sneeze on the Animals: The Saint Louis Zoo’s COVID-19 restrictions remain in effect for this event, meaning you’ll need to purchase your tickets in advance at (no tickets will be sold at the door) and plan to wear a mask covering your mouth and nose throughout your visit. The festivities end at 8:30 p.m., offering you three and a half hours of child-free bliss. Make ’em count!

8 p.m. Friday, September 18 and Saturday, September 19. Old Rock House, 1200 South Seventh Street. $30 to $40. 314-588-0505.
Live music returns to the Old Rock House with a reduced-capacity, socially distanced Listening Room series featuring a slate of musicians from the St. Louis area. This week’s offering is the estimable Tonina, one of St. Louis’ most-buzzed-about musicians in recent years (one who even memorably got a nod from former president Barack Obama, the last president we had who wasn’t a complete and irredeemable asshole), performing two nights in a row. Tonina’s soulful R&B voice combines with folk and jazz sensibilities and more than a dash of Latin flavor to make for a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts — seriously, she’s a stunningly talented musician who must be heard to be believed. This pair of shows — for which Old Rock House is only operating at 10 percent of its normal capacity, meaning only 50 tickets will be sold — mark an increasingly rare opportunity to catch her live in an intimate setting as her star continues to rise.
Safe in Sound? Old Rock House’s Listening Room series features a slew of precautions set in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While we're compelled to stress that no amount of precautions can guarantee that you'll not encounter the disease when gathered in a crowd — especially within a building — it seems as though the team behind the venue has at least thought the matter through. In addition to operating at a dramatically reduced capacity, the venue has spaced out its tables six feet apart; will require masks for all staff and any guests who are not seated at their tables; will employ frequent sanitization efforts; and will be taking the temperature of everyone before they walk in the door. Basically, this show will fall somewhere between the safety of attending no show at all and the absurd recklessness of attending one at a venue that has chosen to ignore the fact that a pandemic is happening at present. Adjust your comfort level accordingly.

Janet Evra
7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 19. Steward Family Plaza at the Sheldon, 3648 Washington Boulevard. $20 to $40. 314-533-9900.
Count the Sheldon Concert Hall as another local venue that is beginning to play host to live music again after darkening its stage for months during the pandemic. Unlike Old Rock House, though, the Sheldon’s stage is staying dark for now, and instead artists will perform in the Steward Family Plaza just outside the venue. This weekend will see St. Louis’ Janet Evra playing the uniquely modern mix of beach-pop, bossa nova, samba and Latin jazz that has made her a favorite on stages from St. Louis to Europe. A 2019-2020 Artist in Residence at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Evra's tireless work ethic has seen her release two singles during this hell year — May's "Floating on Life" and July's "Summer Love Song," the latter featuring fellow St. Louis artists Brady Lewis, Hal Pascale and Justin Ra. With most opportunities to perform live dried up due to the pandemic, it’s good to see one of the city’s more celebrated artists keeping busy.
Out and About: The Sheldon’s outdoor concert series will feature pandemic precautions including tables spaced six feet apart, a small number of guests (in this case, only 28) and a mask requirement for those not seated at their table. Tickets must be purchased in advance; you can buy those and read more about the safety guidelines at

Perfume Genius: Live From The Palace Theater
4 p.m. Saturday, September 19. Live-streamed event. $15.
In an age of endless live-streamed events, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. It seems like damn near everyone with an Instagram account is popping into our feeds with an acoustic guitar in their hand nowadays, encouraging people to drop some money into the digital tip jar posted in the comments. This is decidedly not the live music event we crave. But art-rock/indie-pop artist Perfume Genius has found a way to make your money count, teaming up with a six-piece band and a string quartet for a performance to be live-streamed from Los Angeles' Palace Theater. Perfume Genius mastermind (and darling of the Pitchfork set) Mike Hadreas will perform several songs from his latest, February's Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, alongside the group, marking the first time that many of the songs have been performed live at all. The show will be followed by an acoustic solo performance (naturally) for an additional $5, and the stream will be available for viewing through 4 a.m. Sunday, September 20.
Outer and Abouter: Spend your money proudly — this performance will support Immigration Equality, an American LGBTQ immigrant rights organization that Hadreas, himself a gay man, has frequently championed through his work.

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